Do an internet search looking for the worst cars sold in the U.S. and you find lists more numerous than posts covering that video of Jay Leno in the Hemi Under Glass drag car that rolled over. Consensus, in the subcompact class at least, gravitates around the Mitsubishi Mirage, a subcompact hatchback so widely loathed by reviewers upon its 2014 debut that it, um, rang up a year of rising sales. Our own road-test review wore a typical headline: “Sad Trombone.” More than 21,000 people heard a trumpet, though, calling them to buy one.
About the time those 2015 sales figures had us wondering if maybe we’d missed something appealing about the Mirage—other than its two advertising-friendly virtues of a low $13,805 base price and bragging rights to the best EPA-combined fuel-economy rating of any nonhybrid vehicle (40 mpg for the CVT version)—Mitsu skipped the 2016 model year. Call it a furlough from the whipping post. The Mirage returns as an early 2017 model, with its lineup now augmented by the Mirage G4 sedan, the subject of this test. The sedan’s wheelbase is 3.9 inches longer, most of which benefits space for the back-seat passengers, and the G4 is 20.7 inches longer overall, reflecting the addition of the trunk. That extra space moves this Mirage out of the subcompact class and into the compact category according to EPA/SAE measurements.
Americans, we’re told, strongly prefer sedans over hatchbacks, so count this as an attempt to adapt the car to our market. The hatchback, built in Thailand, competes with similar cars in global (primarily Asian) markets. We’re often asked why such basic transportation appliances aren’t sold in America. The Mirage G4 is a case study in what happens when manufacturers try.
The G4 redesign stretches the potato-like hatchback into more yam-like proportions. It may have a nerdish, pseudo Prius appeal to those wowed by the 37-mpg EPA-combined fuel-economy rating. The Mirage even shares one exterior part with the Lancer Evolution—a chromed metal garnish on the front fender. As on the Evo Final Edition, you can rattle it around with a fingertip. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by Alex Conley